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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Growing Competition for Mobile Smartphone Apps

There was considerable growth in the mobile applications market in 2010 -- and more competition is expected in 2011, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

Despite more proactive involvement in app store development from other platform providers, Apple iTunes is still the market leader after having such a successful head start.

ABI estimates that the Apple iPhone interface had accumulated more than 5.6 billion downloads by the end of 2010 -- compared to nearly 7.9 billion total downloads from all stores during that year.

However, Apple is set to face more intensive competition in 2011.

"The iTunes App Store only targets iOS users; that leaves more room for other platform application stores to step up and focus on non-Apple clientele," said Fei Feng Seet, research associate at ABI.

Google Android-based smartphone quarterly shipments now exceed Apple phones. There is still a long way to go, but accumulated downloads from both Google Android Market and third-party platforms surpassed 1.9 billion by the end of 2010.

Android Market currently features more than 130,000 apps in 48 countries -- nearly half of iTunes App Store's current catalog.

"RIM has also been making a conscious effort to increase BlackBerry's footprint in the mobile apps market, as seen in its recent aggressive expansion to over 100 markets, and developer conferences it has held in United States and Indonesia," adds Seet.

ABI Research estimates that accumulated BlackBerry app downloads totaled more than 1 billion as of December 2010.

More mobile network operators are also considering entry into the mobile application market -- India's Idea Cellular, for example, just launched its Online Application Store shortly in advance of its 3G network launch.

Multi-platform app store GetJar has just raised $25 million for futher expansion in a recent announcement, and plans to secure its position as the premier open-source app store.